The National Committee for fighting HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, which performs the role of the Country Coordinating Mechanism in Serbia, adopted today the documents which will be submitted to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The project is expected to run from July 2019 to June 2022.
Back in 2016, the Global Fund allocated €1,098,351 for HIV and building resilient and sustainable systems for health. The allocation have been determined primarily based on disease burden and income level. Serbia is classified as an upper-middle-income country. Serbia committed to encourage additional domestic investment of 25%. The first amount agreed during the application in already included in the national budget for 2019.
The project seeks to scale-up HIV testing services for all key affected populations (KPs), preventive programs for men who have sex with men and sex workers and needles and syringes program (NSP) and other preventive programs for people who inject drugs. In addition, the project seeks to maintain and extend support provided by organizations of people living with HIV to people on antiretroviral treatment. The project will fund services provided by civil society organisations and will contribute to community system strengthening. In order to reach the maximum impact the majority of prevention and support interventions will be implemented at least in the two regions (Belgrade and Vojvodina) in which majority of KPs are concentrated based on surveillance data..
The civil society organisations, including DPNSEE and our three member organisations from Serbia Prevent, Duga and Timok Youth Centre, actively participated in creating the new national HIV strategy, in the work of the National Committee and the Working group for negotiations with the Global Fund.
As a partner on the project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South Eastern Europe”, DPNSEE member ogranisation Aksion Plus implemented activities. In March 2018, in the cooperation with ASHR (Regional Health Authority), a service was provided for performing Hepatitis B & C and HIV/AIDS testing for drug users and LGBTI population who receive services at the Aksion Plus Center. The purpose was a health examination aimed at referring to the relevant instances to provide the necessary medical assistance.
Following that, they organised the meeting with drug users in the city of Elbasan at the Methadone Dispensing Center. During this discussion, the conversation was about the problems encountered by drug users in this city. The issues discussed were around the topics related to and focused on getting more detailed information about methadone use, its impact and the facilities offered to users to receive this service. Based on the latest Harm Reduction Manual printed last year, the techniques of harm reduction were discussed with the participants, as well the new projects that Aksion Plus intends to implement in the future about the use of drugs.
Conclusions of the meeting were that they, as the key population, should be more active and supported to self organise so as to be able to communicate with local authorities in order to advocate for more services, chances of employment, better access to health structures, etc. In addition, all participants at the meeting were informed about the current project that Aksion Plus has undertaken in collaboration with a law office. This initiative aims to provide free legal aid to drug users.
One of the problems highlighted during the meeting was discrimination in institutions and employment opportunities. For this reason, we discussed encouraging cooperation between them to demand respect for their rights. Of course with the support of Aksion Plus.